Looking out through the mist-blurred window at the pale streamers of dawnlight penciling the sky, Magda’s eyes grew wistful—wonderingly questioning the future. Was she, too, only waiting for the revelation of dawn—the dawn of that mysterious thing called love which can transmute this everyday old world of ours into heaven or hell?
Gillian was at the door to welcome her when at length the car pulled up at Friars’ Holm. She looked rather white and there were purple shadows under her eyes, but her lips smiled happily.
“Coppertop? How is he?” asked Magda quickly.
“Sleeping, thank God! He’s safe now! But—oh, Magda! It’s been awful!”
And quite suddenly Gillian, who had faced Death and fought him with a dogged courage and determination that had won the grave-eyed doctor’s rare approval, broke down and burst into tears.
Magda petted and soothed her, until at last her sobs ceased and she smiled through her tears.
“I am a fool!” she said, dabbing at her eyes with a moist, screwed-up ball of something that had once been a cambric handkerchief. “But I’ve quite recovered now—really. Come and tell me about everything. Did Davilof play for you all right? And did you enjoy the dance afterwards? And, oh, I forgot! There’s a letter for you on the mantelpiece. It was delivered by hand while we were both at Lady Arabella’s.”
Mechanically, as she responded to Gillian’s rapid fire of questions, Magda picked up the square envelope propped against the clock and slit open the flap. It was probably only some note of urgent invitation—she received dozens of them. An instant later a half-stifled cry broke from her. Gillian turned swiftly.
“What is it?” she asked, a note of apprehension sharpening her voice.
Magda stared at her dumbly. Then she held out the letter.
“Read it,” she said flatly. “It’s from Kit Raynham’s mother.”
Gillian’s eyes flew along the two brief lines of writing:
“Kit has disappeared. Do you know where he is?—ALICIA RAYNHAM.”
THE FIRST REAPING
At breakfast, some hours later, Magda was in a curiously petulant and uncertain mood. To some extent her fractiousness was due to natural reaction after the emotional excitement of the previous evening. Granted the discovery of the Garden of Eden, and add to this the almost immediate intrusion of outsiders therein—for everybody else is an “outsider” to the pair in possession—and any woman might be forgiven for suffering from slightly frayed nerves the following day. And in Magda’s case she had been already rather keyed up by finding the preceding few days punctuated by unwelcome and unaccustomed happenings.
They all dated from the day of the accident which had befallen her in the fog. It almost seemed as though that grey curtain of fog had been a symbol of the shadow which was beginning to dog her footsteps—the shadow which stern moralists designate “unpleasant consequences.”